Saturday, October 6, 2012

The ER Visit that Wasn't.

This situation isn't the "spending multiple hours in the ER waiting room" kind of traumatic; it's more the "maybe my child is having a weird allergic reaction to vaccines** and his eye is going to melt out of his skull" kind of traumatic. There's a fair bit of (hopefully funny) background to this story, so hold on.

This happened the day of the boy's 4 month (!!) appointment. Shockingly enough, the husband was able to take an hour and a half off from work to attend this appointment. He never tells me in advance that he'll be able to make it, mostly because that always ends with a "Sorry - things came up and I can't be there. Oh, and it will probably be a late night" phone call. I'm not exactly bitter about this, as he's had this job for about a year and I've mostly gotten used to the insane hours, but I am sad that he can't be as involved as he wants to be.

Here's something that could probably take up an entire blog of its own: the husband and I are both pretty "assertive," opinionated, and like to be in charge. For the husband, this makes him really good at things that are important in his job, like delegating and yelling at people. For me, I think that just makes me overbearing and kind of annoying. But, let's pretend that it's endearing. So, as much as I appreciate when he's around for stuff and as happy as I am for him that he gets to be involved, sometimes it's kind of annoying. (Ugh. I sound so petty and ridiculous.) For instance, the husband has a tendency to take over and answer all the questions about the boy's development and current abilities. The problem with this is 1) as I've mentioned, I like to be in control; but mainly 2) that the husband doesn't spend as much time with the boy and - let's face it - isn't always aware that what he thinks are new skills are actually things he's been doing for 2 weeks. (Okay. This is the part where I'm a little bitter.) So then the appointment takes twice as long because the husband is providing inaccurate answers, which I have to correct clarify. To his credit, this has happened several times in the past year or so, but now I can squeeze his hand or glare at him, depending on the level of inaccuracy, and he smiles sheepishly and from then on defers to me.

So, this particular doctor appointment went the same way - he took over, I glared, he pretended to let me take charge. Don't worry - I'm not planning on bragging about how great the boy is doing, but here:

(Please ignore the spit-up and the messiness)

Then, the doctor talked to us all about starting him on "solids" (i.e. - icky pureed mess that will probably permanently damage the light-beige carpet in our, um, rented apartment) and prescribed the boy some children's tylenol because it was (dramatic pause) vaccine day.

The following is a description of the horror that is infant vaccination. First, after the 2nd month appointment and its correlating vaccines, the parent knows exactly how horrible this is going to be. The wait is agonizing: hearing other small children scream as they receive their shots, knowing that your child is going to be the one enduring pain-of-death (heh.), and trying to bestow the last bit of comfort you can while you await your child's gruesome fate. Then, they call the child's name. It's like some macabre version of "Come on down! You're the next contestant on The Price is Right!" except instead of winning a car or thousands of dollars, you're winning pain for your child. Congrats!! Finally, you're in the room. It's freezing cold, and you have to take the babe's pants off, which starts the discomfort and all you can think of is how this is nothing compared to what suffering he'll endure in just a couple of minutes. 

The husband had never seen the boy very upset until this point. He had seen the "Seriously, guys - I'm getting pretty hungry over here," but not the "Holy S***, woman!! You just dropped an entire soda on me while I was just innocently sitting in my stroller! You are a horrible person!" (True story.) 

Parenthetically, the husband still gets a little nervous from the hunger cry, and says things like "uh, baby-momma? The boy is starting to freak out." And then I say things like, "eh - He's fine. Just bounce him for a minute; I need to go to the bathroom/finish unloading the dishwasher/pour myself a glass of wine."

Since the husband knew that the 2 month vaccinations were so traumatic for me, he said that he would hold the boy when he got the shots. So, I stood myself in a corner like a 3rd grader who had just pulled a classmate's pigtail braids and tried to suppress the dread. 

Parenthetically (again), I try really hard not to "rescue" the boy from his dad when he's crying (the boy, not the dad - heh). Sometimes this takes all of the restraint I can muster (which, let's face it, isn't much), but I think it's really important that the boy turns to the husband for comfort and the husband develops his own skills to comfort the boy. 

However, the second the nurse/tech/corp(wo)man indicated that she was done, I swooped in and confiscated the boy. I didn't even ask the husband if I could have him - I probably would have fought him to the death if he had resisted. Thankfully, he did not resist and the only one who suffered physical pain was the small, helpless infant that had been entrusted to me by God him/herself. 

Next came the pharmacy and associated administering-of-the-tylenol. I will not go into the hot mess that was me trying to shove the massive syringe filled with viscous grape-flavored nastiness down my uncooperative child's throat. (To totally geek out, I felt like I was Harry Potter, forcing Dumbledore to drink all the potion in the stone basin, saying, "Just this last bit - this will help, Professor!") All I will say is that I had to wash both of our outfits more than once before the syrupy grape smell was completely removed and I kept finding spots of gooeyness on the boy for a couple of days - even though I bathe him every night before bed. Gross. 

All afternoon, he was a puddle of grape-scented mess. About 3 hours of fussiness later, I noticed that he had this spot on his eye that looked like someone had recently punched him. It was red and a little puffy. He hadn't been hurt by anything (on his face, at least), and it didn't really seem like an allergic reaction because it wasn't located in a "classic" reaction place and wasn't irritating him. 

It was 6 pm. I talked to my mom/family nurse, and drew a circle around the affected area with eyeliner (yes, eyeliner) to make sure it wasn't spreading. Then, I remembered the agony of the last two ER visits and the overreaction that led to the ER visit before those, and decided to maybe go through some other channels before I committed myself to an evening of tediousness. 

Here are some thoughts on the eyeliner situation. I thought that it would stay for the evening/night (which it did), but I absolutely forgot that it's waterproof. This unfortunately meant that in order to remove it, I had to scrub at it a little with some soap. Surprisingly enough, the boy was not a fan of the scrubbing, so he spent more than one day looking like Petey from Little Rascals:

Moving on. Here's a tip for anyone associated with the Navy who lives in the area, there are after-hours provider hotlines. I called the hotline, explained the entire situation to the gal that answered, and after 3 minutes of explanation she said, "Okay - I'll contact the doctor and tell him that your son is having some concerning symptoms." You know, because that totally summed all of that up. But, almost immediately, I got a call back from a doctor. I cautiously explained the situation in short 10-second bursts, hoping that he would stop me sooner rather than later if he wasn't the person I needed. (Why is it that I always do this backwards? Oh, right - my motto is "when in doubt, be verbose.")

Thankfully, though, he was the right person. He was great: informative without being condescending, assumed that I might just be a responsible parent who is proactive in the health of my child (shocking!), and basically just chatted it over with me. We decided (seriously, though - it was mutual) that it was probably that the boy came in contact with something that would not normally have irritated him, except his immune system was on high-alert from the vaccines. (My bet is his play "gym" that I washed in delicate soap, which - sin of all sins - isn't fragrance-free. There goes Mom-of-the-Year.)

In retrospect, the background was much more interesting than the non-ER portion. But, isn't having an uninteresting night the point of not going to the ER?

**Also, I know that vaccinations and the parenting choices around scheduling them and/or giving them at all is kind of a hot-button topic right now. I respect parents who are proactive and involved in their child's health, and understand that the choices the husband and I make for our family aren't always the same as others'. All that said - if you have a staunch opinion regarding this personal choice that we have made, please find a place to judge us that does not include the comment section of this blog. Gossiping behind our backs is completely encouraged.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Saturday of a Holiday Weekend.

First off, I really thought that I wouldn't be a nervous parent. My mom's a nurse so, instead of going to the doctor when we were sick, she would say things like, "eh - you're fine. Here's some tylenol." I just assumed that this "eh - I'm sure things are fine" attitude would translate to my own parenting as well. The problem is that 1) that was before I was the primary caretaker for a completely helpless being, 2) I never thought about the fact that I can't judge the seriousness of the situation by having him pinpoint his level of pain on a 1-10 scale, and 3) I have no medical training. Oh, and also, it was kind of a lot of work to get him here, and I don't really want to do that again for awhile.

Apparently, however, I was incorrect. For the first few weeks of his life I was absolutely paranoid that we were doing things horribly wrong, he would be emotionally scarred for life, and we would go broke from all the psychotherapy he needed starting at the ripe old age of 8.

Observe the panic in our faces when the boy fussed.
(also - all credit goes to our lovely photographer)

So, for the first few weeks, his eyes were a little weepy, but I had learned that apparently the weepiness in newborns isn't uncommon (probably the only piece of encouraging news I've ever gotten from webmd). His eyes would get just a little, er, crusty (sorry about that image) after sleeping, but it really wasn't anything substantial.

On the Saturday of a holiday weekend, the boy woke up and the eye thing was nasty. I'm not sure I'll go into any more detail than that because I don't want to alienate the audience (oh, and there are no words). I called every number I could think of - nurse hotlines, urgent care centers, on-call provider hotline, Navy-Marine Relief Society visiting nurse program, etc... I tried and tried to find somewhere other than the ER to take the boy. Did I mention it was the Saturday morning of a holiday weekend?

I've been trying to figure out what holiday weekend this was - searching for the picture I sent to my mom via text, and even looking for the status I'm positive I posted on Facebook - but I can't find it. I think it must have been Memorial Day weekend, so when the boy was all of 9 days old.

Also, at 9 days old, it was molto difficile to get the whole famn-damily out of the door.

(heh... funny story: The first time the 4 of us went out to dinner when my mom came to help with the boy when the husband went back to work, my mom and I spent about 2 hours trying to get out the door - there was the feeding, the packing up, the getting dressed, the feeding again, the re-dressing due to baby puke, more packing up, and then the spectacle of actually loading all of us and the gear into the car. 2 hours. When we finally got in the car, my mom and I started talking about how difficult it is to get out of the house with an infant, to which the husband replied, "what do you mean? It only took us 20 minutes..." Needless to say, he was swiftly corrected by a still-hormonal wife.)

So, when I finally called every number that I could get my hands on, I determined that the only clinic open was the ER on base. Next time, I will remember that the military medical facilities are not the only ones in existence and will save myself heartache and frustration by going to a quick-care, rather than an ER.

When we finally got to the ER, it was packed. I did everything I could think of to find a seat for my un-vaccinated child that was not immediately next to someone who probably had polio or whooping cough or the plague, but the only place that was away from "the infected" was directly under the TV which was tuned to Hawaiian cartoons, and I'm pretty sure the husband would rather contract whooping cough himself than spend hours listening to that mess (based on the previous ER visit).

I think that this particular ER was deceitful, and the administrators had taken psychology classes to learn about the "foot in the door" concept. (This psychobabble is different from the foot in the door situation that would be the impetus of a visit to the ER.) They suck you in by attending to you quickly at first. After 2 hours of waiting after that, one might be tempted to say, "yeah - this isn't worth it," but you can't leave, because you've already checked in. You've already invested. You're on the hook.

As soon as you check in, you are ushered through the magical doors, out of the waiting room, and into the actual unit. I don't know if I just forgot about the whole "triage" thing or if I thought that a nine-day old patient would get head of the line privileges, but I totally expected the doctor to come waltzing in any second to send us on our way less than 20 minutes after checking in. Yeah. That did not so much happen. After a quick triage, we were sent right back out to the waiting room with all of the people who were dying from horrible air-borne diseases.

And that is where we spent the next 4 hours (literally. 4.). The husband was just as infinitely patient during this waiting period as he had been the time before, which means not at all. This time was even more miserable because I didn't have any change in the diaper bag, so I couldn't even send him to go get snacks. Also, it was freezing there. The only ways for me to keep warm were to 1) steal the boy's blankets and 2) "nurse" him, which was less about feeding, and more about snuggling for warmth and keeping the nursing cover draped over us.

A couple of times, though, I was pretty glad that we were forced to wait. One guy came in wearing flip-flops, swim shorts, and had apparently taken his shirt off to wrap it around his hand, which was bleeding through numerous layers of t-shirt. (I'm assuming numerous layers because this guy was not exactly fit - definitely not someone I was hoping to see sans-shirt.) He went back to triage, returned wearing a bandage and a hospital gown over his shorts, and was promptly called back to the "real" ER. So, it was kind of reassuring that the guy who very well might have been bleeding out after holding a firework as it exploded, was a much bigger priority than my infant with the crusty eye.

Across the aisle from us, there was another gal that had an infant who was apparently born on the same day as the boy. In my hyper-hormonal state, I panicked for about 1/3 of a second thinking, "holy crap! maybe our babies were switched at birth like that horrible disney show that I keep hearing about when I'm watching disney movies on TV!" And then it dawned on me that she was hispanic, and it probably would have been noticeable if there had been some mistake.

Anyway. 4 hours later (literally - I know this because the husband kept updating me every 3 minutes about how long it had been), we were taken back past the triage area - yay!! - and into a partitioned room where the boy was examined and the doctor said he had a minor eye infection due to a blocked tear duct, prescribed an antibiotic cream, and finally sent us home after 8 minutes. 4 hours of waiting for 8 minutes of exam. That seems like an efficient ratio.

All-in-all, it was not my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning/afternoon. I have since realized, though, that this was probably not the last time that the boy will need to go to the ER at an incredibly inconvenient time, when the ER is the busiest it gets over the course of an entire year.

Hopefully, though, it will always be on the eye-gunk level, and not on the loosing-appendages level.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Rash I Thought was Stretch Marks.

Sometime last October-ish, I was on the phone with my mom and noticed that I was scratching the same place on my back quite often. So, I got up off of my usual place on the couch (yes, the fabric does show signs of increased wear) to check it out in the mirror and saw very distinct line-y red spots. And there I stood: a woman in the early stages of pregnancy staring down the first bit of visible damage. I think I might have said a few cuss words to my mother. ("Holy S***!!! Are those stretch marks?? WTF??")

Except... I was only 2-3 months pregnant with the boy, and I had probably lost weight, if anything, since finding out he was on board... not because I was exercising (heh), but because I was no longer consuming what had apparently been a fair bit of calories in liquid form, ifyouknowwhatimean. The point I'm trying to get across here is that it would be extremely unlikely for my skin to show signs of stretching, because there wasn't anything extra for them to stretch over. (ew.) But, pregnancy-related paranoia does not yield to reason.

On a somewhat related note, I have what I consider to be a meaningful and not-regretable tattoo on my back. It's not in the lower back area (I hate the term "tramp stamp," so I will refrain from using it here), but off to the side... more kidney/hip area. Anyway, it's the outline of a praying guy and he sits/kneels right above my pant waistband. Some people have erroneously said that he looks like a frog.... If I were more flexible and/or motivated, I would take a picture and post it, because I obviously cannot describe it.

Anyway, the redness was right above the praying guy. Here's what it reminded me of:

Yes. This is absolutely sacrilegious, but it looked exactly like Pentecostal "tongues of flame" on top of my praying tattoo's head. 

So. Over the next few days, the reddish area just seemed to get bigger. It was also became more and more uncomfortable, pretty much every hour. I had a suspicion that it was an allergic reaction to a prescription that I take, but wasn't quite sure, so I hopped on webmd, since apparently I didn't learn from last time. Well, as if the webmd gods were just waiting for some soul like me in need of fuel for the fire of health-related terror, there is a slideshow with pictures and descriptions of the most common skin issues. I studied each of them, rejoiced that I didn't suffer from "morning" sickness, and eventually came to the conclusion that I had some crazy skin disorder which encompassed the most miserable symptoms of all skin disorders known to humankind. 

I don't really remember the timing of all of this, but we ended up at the ER on the Sunday of a holiday weekend. I have told the husband many times since this several-hour trip that I think that I would rather wait with a toddler in the ER than with him. I mean, yeah - it was pretty horrible that we were in a small room waiting room with about 20 other people (plus their ill children) and were forced to listen to Hawaiian cartoons blaring from the blown-out TV speakers. But, seriously, the last thing that "helps" the time go by is looking at your watch every three seconds and updating your itchy pregnant wife on the number of hours and minutes what you've been waiting there. Also, the 3rd or 4th time he "needed to take a walk" and wanted to know if I had any more change for him to get a snack from the vending machine, I heard my mother's exasperated voice come out of me: "No - I don't have any more change. I already gave you all the change I had." (Thankfully I/she stopped before the normal "go ask your dad" portion.)

Fast forward 3 hours: we were taken back to an area with curtained-off exam areas. The beauty of this setup versus actual rooms is that you can eavesdrop. The down side is that you have no choice but to eavesdrop. For instance, neither the husband nor myself wanted to hear a doctor explain to a grown woman and her father (!!) that she has a particularly feminine-related infection. I have nothing else to say about that situation. I tried to think of something snarky, but even a year later, I have no words. 

Anyway. Finally, the doctor came in, examined my mutant skin disease of death and told me that I actually had shingles. The husband's first response: "hahaha - You mean that disease that old people get??" Needless to say, that was not exactly helpful... especially when my first thought was, "Hey! I wonder if this virus that is currently attacking my body will do any damage to this tiny helpless zygote that I just found out that I'm carrying."

At this point, there was a rather emotionally traumatic scene (unlike the rest of the experience...?) wherein a furious and pregnant me told the husband to go call my mom (a nurse) and he said that he didn't know what I wanted him to tell her and I cried some.

The good part: they have an antiviral that is safe to use during pregnancy and it both stopped the rash from spreading and significantly cut down on recovery time.

The bad part: Seriously? All of it. Aside from postpartum recovery, it was the most miserable I have been for a sustained period. The virus attacks the nerves, not just an area of skin, so it often felt like someone was plucking guitar strings that ran from my hip all the way up my back. Oh, and ice packs and calamine lotion. Oh, and I couldn't hang out with my friends who had pre-chicken-pox-vaccine babies. All in all, a fairly unhappy experience.

Oh. And, two more things to make matters worse: Apparently, if you get shingles once, there's a higher chance that you'll get it again. Second, now Big Pharma is making a shingles vaccine - I've seen the commercials. It's all old people. Damn. The husband was right all along.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

As Promised: Naples Mosquitoes from Hell

For two glorious years, the husband and I kind of took a break from reality and lived in Naples, Italy. Like I said, glorious. We wouldn't trade our time there for anything, and the husband knows that he would not need to call home to ask what I thought if someone were to randomly show up in his office and say that a spot there opened up and he had 2 minutes to decide if he wanted it or not, because we would both be there on the next flight if we could. Naples itself is an enigma: She's the beauty of the Amalfi Coast and the graffiti on the cathedrals; the bustle of driving and the lingering bottle (or three) of wine; the obscene gestures while driving and the love of a family among strangers in a cafe. One loves it and hates it all at once.

(In Vietri sul Mare - one of my favorite places ever.)

(And, yes, we are talking about the burning-piles-of-trash Naples and the seat-of-the-Italian-mafia Naples)

One thing that Naples is not-so-known for is its infrastructure. Internet, water heat/pressure, road maintenance (hahaha...), wiring, etc. I got used to saying a little prayer every time I turned on the shower or wanted to Skype.

The reason I'm saying this is not to complain, but to get to the main part of the post: the mosquitos. I am 98% sure that there is none of the spraying-to-reduce-mosquito-population going on. They're absolutely massive, and I'm positive that there's some bacteria or something that causes a crazy reaction the first summer there, and then you're body adapts (hopefully) and the next summer, while still completely miserable, doesn't lead you to totally scratch off all your skin.

Right after we moved there, we took a weekend trip to a little resort-ish thing. I have no clue where it was, but there were mineral springs or something. Seriously - it was a long time ago. Anyway, I got all these bug bites, but I didn't notice them at first, meaning that I scratched them. A lot.

The retreat was great, blah, blah, blah. Not relevant.

We got home (well, back to our temporary lodging on base), walked straight to the grocery store for hydrocortisone cream - I would have gone for tequila and a shot glass, if someone had thought that would help at all. I was absolutely sure than any instant, my legs would spontaneously combust and I would be forced to stop, drop, and roll in a kiddie tub of bite-be-gone. By the time we got home, it looked like someone had chopped a couple of softballs in half and shoved them under each of the 3 (!!) bites on my leg.

It was at this point that I made the fateful decision to pull up webmd. I'm pretty sure that webmd should change their tagline to "We Turn Headaches into Brain Tumors!" Somehow, I got into the section that talks about skin infections. Uh, gross. I started reviewing the symptoms: itching (check); warm to the touch (check); white area in the middle (check). And that is when I knew for sure that I had a skin infection, I would be septic within 2 hours, and would inevitably die before my parents could fly from the West Coast to be at my bedside.

Needless to say, some of that panic was, um, unnecessary. There was that little voice in the back of my head whispering, "uh, Jess? shut up. you're fine. take a benadryl and watch BBC Sports."

However, I definitely did not listen to that little voice, and had the husband drive me to the hospital on base. Here's a snippet of the conversation between me and the ER check-in lady (I'm sure that's not actually her title, but I definitely was not up for reading name tags):

Me: I-have-these-things-on-my-legs-and-I-think-they're-infected
Nurse: Oh - those look like normal bug bites.
Me: They're-red-and-warm-to-the-touch-and-have-white-parts-in-them
Nurse: Well, I can't just look at them, we would have to check you in if you want someone to examine them.
Me (probably in a condescending tone): Well... I came to the Emergency Room because I feel like it is important for them to be, uh, examined as soon as possible, especially since I believe that they are infected.

(I'm sure that, by this point, the husband was a little embarrassed to be seen in public with my overly-rude and definitely overly-paranoid self.)

Apparently, then, the gal got the hint that I would like to see a doctor, and did the triage and the medical history and all of the things that are supposedly "necessary," even though that meant wasting valuable time. I couldn't believe they were so blatantly and completely disregarding the seriousness of my condition. I vowed to complete a patient survey form... if I made it out alive, of course.

Finally, they put me in a "room" - really a bed surrounded by curtains, but that was okay... I was sure I'd be in the ICU in a matter of minutes.

And then, while I was lying in hospital bed, smelling the scents of iodine and bleach (yay!), and being accosted by the icky florescent lights, it dawned on me that the whole ER-thing might have been an overreaction. By the time we went home, I was absolutely mortified that I had panicked and, on top of that, I was mean to the nurse who was just trying to keep me from spending an evening in the ER when I could be home eating pasta and sipping limoncello. Here are two great one-liners that helped me reach that healthy embarrassment:

1: (the patient in the next room, through gritted teeth) - "Yeah... I thought that might be bone sticking out through the skin..."

2: (the doctor that examined me) - "We do see a lot of patients coming in with their first Naples bug bites... Especially moms bringing in their toddlers."

End of the story: I didn't die; I was am a total wuss, especially compared to people with actual "owies;" I have the triage skills of a toddler.

(Parenthetically, someone told me, "It's important to pay attention to changes with your body," which was comforting for a few minutes... until I realized that they probably got that line from a 5th-grade sex-ed pamphlet.)

Here's what I should have been doing: Homemade Limoncello

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Intro: ER Visits.

Here's a revolutionary idea that I've seen just about every blogger in the blogosphere (is that a real term?) implement: a series. I've been having a little trouble coming up with new and hilarious things to write about, especially since I'm sure not too many people are constantly entertained by/willing to read about poop and breastfeeding.

So, without further ado, I would like to announce a series of posts that will delve into the ER experiences we've had over the last couple of years. That's right - "couple of years." Although I sometimes forget it, there were experiences that the husband and I had before procreating. And, shockingly enough, sometimes we even enjoyed those experiences!

Topics (hopefully in order):

- Naples Mosquitoes from Hell
- The Rash I Thought were Stretch-marks
- Saturday of a Holiday Weekend
- The ER Visit that Wasn't

I hope everyone (ok, my mom and the husband) enjoy hearing about these fairly traumatic experiences.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

PLEASE: Read the Disclaimer.

Disclaimer/Notice/Attention: This post is mostly about baby poop and nursing. It will probably be awkward to some people. Here are two happy pictures to take up some space so that those who are not interested in reading this post won't see anything they don't want to.

(This is what some people would rather do than 
hear about breastfeeding and baby poop)

(The station wagon we rented for a wine-buying 
road trip, loaded down with cases of wine. This
is what some of you will need to continue reading.)

Ok. Anyone still around deserves what they get.

What follows is the story of how we missed church on this, the second week of football Sundays. (Hint: it has nothing to do with football, it's just a coincidence.)

We have started attending church. This is actually well overdue, but before we had the boy, we would sleep in until 10 or so on the weekends and not really want to go to church at 1030. Oh, and we're heathens. Now, however, I/we get up around 7 on weekends, so we have plenty of time to pull ourselves together and make it somewhere in 3 1/2 hours.

This morning, though, the boy decided to sleep past his normal well past 7. I have two morning policies: 1) don't wake a sleeping baby; and 2) don't get in the shower before he gets up in the morning, because he will inevitably wake up right after you have passed the point of no return and will wail the entire shower time without you even hearing him because the shower is so loud. (The second one is more paranoia than policy.) He finally woke up around 830. The problem that it wasn't just a normal, "Hey! I'm awake and ready to play! Hows about you feed me?" It was, "Hey! I'm awake! Oh, by the way, I pooped sometime in the night, and my diaper somehow slid off to the side, so my entire body is caked with dried poop - along with my sheets and blankies! But at least I'm smily and adorable!" The husband took a picture of this, but there is no way in hell that I'm going to show that to anyone. Except maybe the grandparents. I'm sure they want to see that we're being paid back for the hell we caused them.

It took the husband and me a good 20 minutes to clean up the poop-splosion. I took the boy, and the husband took the laundry. (I'm pretty sure he got the better deal.) As anyone who has dealt with a flood of yellow goop knows, it's not just about wiping everything down... especially when he's in that bicycling-the-feet stage. Every time you get one area wiped off - a heel, for instance - it kicks or waves or jerks right back into the pile o' poo. Gross.

Then, I still had to feed him. This doesn't take too long, but it isn't exactly quick, either.

Finally, at 940, the boy was clean, fed, and asleep. I had 30 minutes to shower, pull myself together, pump, and throw some clothes on the boy. Oh, in the interim, the husband went in to work, with the promise of meeting me at the church, so I was on my own.

Background on breastfeeding: I pump breast milk pretty much every morning. This is not because I'm "above" feeding the boy formula (he has a bottle a 3-4 times a week), but mostly because 1) going too long between feedings hurts; 2) I'm not a fan of being incredibly lopsided; and 3) I'd like to keep up the supply. TMI? Probably, but you read the disclaimer.

(I don't like to pump before I feed the boy, because sometimes 
he eats more than others and obviously he's starving. )

Here's the mental picture of the week: Me. Soaking wet hair. Keeping a breast pump in place with one arm (not hand; arm).  Holding foundation in breast-pump-hand. Trying not to bend over and spill breast milk. "Swirl-Tap-Buff"-ing bare minerals foundation with my other hand.

Then, the phone rang at 1015. Well, vibrated, since the boy was asleep. The husband wanted to know if I was going to be able to make it to church. I told him that I wasn't exactly ready (understatement, much?). He was very understanding and said that he thought that that might be the case - especially if the boy was still asleep. Then, I said, "Well - that's not the main reason that I'm not ready. Have you ever tried pumping and putting eyeliner on at the same time?" Which lead to one of the funniest things he's ever said**:

"Well... no, fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be, pumping while applying eyeliner is not one of the many rich experiences that has constituted my life thus far."

And, that is how poop, breast pumps and eyeliner thwarted our church-going plans.

**The other funniest thing he's ever said happened one time when I didn't know that he was working on fixing a broken toilet, and all a sudden I heard him yell, "F*** you, toilet!!!"

Friday, September 14, 2012

Identities and Motherhood

So. I've been running different versions of this entry around in my head, trying to figure out how it is to make this funny & snarky, rather than ungrateful and bitchy. Yeah - I can't come up with one, so I guess I'm left to wonder what it is that reveals about me... Basically, I'm just going to skim over the first part and hope no one notices how self-absorbed I am.

Here it goes: the reputations of the men in my life (at first my dad's, now my husband's) have preceded me ever since I can remember. The good thing is that they are excellent reputations to be associated with, the bad thing is that this makes my not-so-inner feminist a rankle just a little every time. Maybe too many women's lit classes in college? I don't know, but, yeah - let's go with something that decreases my responsibility.

Now, the boy is still only a few months old. He doesn't have "real" play dates yet - they're mostly excuses for me to get together with my friends who just had babies and drink a glass of wine. There isn't any person that knows the boy and not me, which means that, as of yet, he's "Jessica's son" (ha! take that!). However, in a few years, he'll go to school and I'll introduce myself to his teachers and his friends' parents as "Jack's mom." Yes, we will be back to square one.

I've known for a long time that "mommy cards" exist - and have rolled my eyes about them ever since. I'm hoping that since I never invested in pastor's daughter cards or submariner's wife cards, I'll be able to keep my own identity.

But, if I ever end up selling my soul to vistaprint, I'll probably spring for the ones that let you upload your own photo, and define myself like this:

 Navy Wife and Baby-Momma

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Shutterfly Effect

Here's another post that relays a story from awhile ago... This one is actually from quite awhile ago.

Anyone who knows the husband and me - or even casually met us on a street corner - knows that both of us are a tad opinionated. Some of the time this works out well: he's opinionated about something that I don't care about, like all the hang-up clothes facing the same way in the closet (seriously??); other times I'm opinionated about things that he doesn't care about, but those things all make sense, obviously. Most of the time, however, we both have fairly staunch opinions about how something should go. For instance, one time when we were engaged, we got in a quite heated argument about whether one should cook the eggs or the bacon first when making an egg and bacon sandwich. Let's skip all of the craziness and go straight to the ending wherein I was in tears and yelled, "fine! Make your own damn sandwich!" Good times, good times.

Incidents such as this made each of us a little nervous about the baby names discussion. We found out on December 29 - roughly 5 months before I was due - that the boy was, in fact, a boy. Here's the in-utero proof:

(It's kind of difficult to see, but there are definitely arrows pointing to the boy parts. I would post a post-birth photo that showed those much more clearly, but I think that's illegal.)

But, although we found out the sex when the boy was only 19 weeks, we definitely did not decide on a name until very close to the end. I liked Henry and Lincoln; I don't really remember what the husband liked, because I'm a little self-absorbed like that (note to self: ask the husband what names he liked). But, coming up with a first name was not the main issue that we were concerned about. The main deal was that both of our families have pretty established naming traditions, both of which we wanted to follow. On my side, there is pretty much not a single man in either my dad's family or my mom's family or my family whose name does not include a particular name starting with J. On the husband's side, the tradition is to use the new grandpa's name as the new baby's middle name. Herein lies the issue: we didn't like either for the first name... we weren't wild about the nicknames, and calling our son the same name as almost every male in my family would just be confusing.

Initially we "decided" that we would name the boy with two middle names. Those two names, along with out last name, make up a whopping 5 syllables. That's not even counting the first name. It was a mouthful. Also, it sounded insanely pompous and we (jokingly) said that we should just own the fact that we were naming our child something ridiculous and put a "III" (uh, spoken "the third" for those who haven't yet studied roman numerals or been exposed to elitists who go to Harvard Law based on the number of buildings their parents have had built for the school). I think this was about 3 weeks before the boy was born.

With this cop-out of a compromise, we started discussing first names, keeping in mind that we needed to limit the number of syllables to avoid ridiculousness. This was, after all, a fairly permanent decision.

We had tentatively decided on a first name (Henry? Lincoln? I don't remember), and I decided that I needed to pick out birth announcements before the boy was born. This was around 1 week before he was born. The problem was that most of the ones I liked included monograms, and I realized that with two middle names, I would never, ever get to have anything monogramed for the boy. I went to all of those preppy-ish store websites that show all the kids' sheets and towels and backpacks and underwear ('cause, really - why the hell not??) embroidered with adorable monograms. Yeah, so I have one thing among all of my earthly possessions that is monogrammed, but what if, in the next 18 years, I completely change my taste and long for something monogramed for the child(ren) that I love?! This was quickly approaching crazy pregnant panic attack territory.

So, to the ultimate baby website I went to search the forums for the lesser-known nicknames associated with the family names. Jimmy? Nope. Lars? Not so much.

And, that is the story of how crazy pregnant me came to the idea of officially nicknaming our child after perusing shutterfly. (The husband readily agreed, by the way - and not just because I threatened to have another emotional breakdown if we had to have any more "name the baby" discussions.)

Here he is:

Meet James Lawrence

(also, more thanks to the amazing photographer)

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Giggle. Or, Why a Boy Needs a Puppy.

Forewarning: this event actually happened a couple of weeks ago, however, I forget that I have this blogging project and am now catching up on the happy little milestones.

Let me start by saying how great it is to have such a lovely group of wives/girlfriends that are connected to the boat to which my husband is currently assigned. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

So, one of those lovely wives invited the rest of us out to her house for dinner while the gents were out to sea a couple of weeks ago. I had forgotten that she has a youngish lab, but the puppy is actually very well behaved. When we first got there, she was a little (ok, immensely) excited, but when she calmed down, I let her sniff at the boy's toes. A little while later, after I had stuffed myself full of fajitas, I was cradling the boy and the back of his head just happened to be more past my arm than resting in my elbow. Before I could really even notice what was happening, sweet puppy Paisley sniffed at, and then proceeded to - ahem - puppy-dog lick the back of the boy's head. Immediately, the heavens parted, the angels sang, and my sweet boy let out peals of heart-melting laughter. 

He was 3 months and 1 week, and almost every one of his waking moments over the past 2 weeks has included me trying ever-so-hard to get him to giggle again. Right now, the only thing that is working is imitating this weird throaty hyperventilating thing. It's adorable when he does it, but I'm either going to have to learn a new trick to making him laugh or be lightheaded for the next several years.

Gratuitous adorable picture:

Petri Dishes & Primary Caretakers

I would be lying if I said that I loved being pregnant. Yes, exciting and magical and wondrous and all that, and I did have a fairly easy pregnancy as pregnancies (apparently) go. I didn't have any morning sickness, my feet didn't swell until the very end, I didn't gain 7 billion pounds, and, thankfully, the boy and I were/are both healthy. Plus, looking back, I was adorable.
(I also had an amazing photographer)

Here's the catch: I woke up on the morning of 23 weeks, and I thought, "damn, I'm tired of being pregnant." Aaaaannnddd... then I was pregnant for another 4 months. From day 1, I was exhausted: I would "work" for 3 hours every weekday morning, come home amid the piles of boxes that I didn't unpack for months, change into sweats, and watch NCIS until my very frustrated husband came home at 8 pm. I was crazy: there was one time that I threw silverware, and that is all I will say about that. Also, my retainers definitely still taste like Gaviscon. Oh, not to mention the judginess from strangers (someday that will be its own separate post.) 

Anyway - when I was pregnant, nobody would talk to me about anything else. I was basically a walking, talking uterus - a petri dish, if you will. I answered questions like, "what are you having?" and "when are you due?" But, there were still a few questions about me salt-and-peppered in there like, "how are you feeling?" and "are you sure you should be drinking caffeine?" 

Now, I am a walking, talking caregiver. The questions are things like, "how old is he?" and "are you sure his cheeks aren't too cold even though he's wrapped in 2 blankets and fully clothed?" Very rarely is there an "oh - how are you dealing with the completely overwhelming task of raising a child?" or "don't you think you should be wearing more under-eye concealer?"

But, I wasn't sure that this complete disregard of my identity past uterus/caregiver would extend to my parents. I'll share one example for each parent.

My dad (the Papa, who calls the boy "monkey") went to Honduras on a work and witness trip. A couple of weeks later, one of my friends from home came to visit and brought with her a souvenir that my dad bought in Honduras. That's right - a single, non-plural souvenir. It wasn't a trinket for his daughter whom he (supposedly) loves... I would have even been happy with a "thanks for bearing me a grandson" gift. Nope - it was a wooden monkey for the boy. Admittedly, it is cute, but seriously. At least spread the love! Moral of the story: my dad sees me as nothing more or less than a walking, talking caregiver for his grandson.

My mom (the Nana, who also calls the boy "monkey," although that has no bearing on the story) was telling me today all about how it's hard for her to live so far away from us - off to a good start - and how sad it is to not be around to see the day-to-day goings on - two for two! - and then wrapped up by saying, "I think you should start a Jack blog so that I can keep up with him." Welp, that ended poorly. 

These two little anecdotes portray a larger truth: even my parents, who should have some vested interest in my life, are no longer curious about me as a person, but only the object of my care-taking.

Ok, but let's be honest: He is worth lots of talk and gifts from travels.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sad Momma Moment

I read a lovely and hilarious blog, and one of the entries talks about snippets of moments, images that she has of parenting over the years. Her examples were all happy. I'm going to talk about an unhappy moment that hopefully leaves my memory soon.

To begin, we're in the tedious process of refinancing a home that we "own." (I say that with quotation marks because, really, the bank owns the house, and they will own it for what seems like an eternity.) There are a few problems: First, the bank is on Central time, and we're 5 hours behind on Hawaiian time, which means that there are not many hours in the day that I am awake while our liaison is at work. Second, K has been working insanely long hours, which means that he has not been able to submit much of the paperwork in a timely manner.

Sooo... we each got a rather panicked voicemail from her saying that if we don't get this current batch of paperwork in *today,* we will not be able to keep this stellar interest rate, and would have to start the process over (which, I believe, includes any fees that we have already paid, but I really have no clue about that, because K is the one that handles pretty much all of our long-term money things). I called her back because I had a couple of questions about the paperwork that I needed to submit. After being on hold for 16 minutes (literally - this is one of the only instances in which hyperbole is not needed), I finally got her on the phone.

When she answered, Baby J was content in my arms, but it was fairly inconvenient to try to hold him and the phone and shuffle through paperwork at the same time. I put him in his swing. He *loves* his swing. He takes long, wonderful naps in his swing. However, because I needed to do something while he was in his swing, he naturally was not having any of the swing game. I knew that it would take a second to calm him down if I picked him up, and I didn't want to have a baby crying into the phone while I'm trying to conduct business. I thought that this call would only take 2 minutes, max.


After 7 minutes, all of my questions had been answered. Baby J had been *hysterical* for the past 5 minutes - I could hear him 2 rooms over, with the doors shut... and, with each of those seconds, my heart was absolutely breaking. I kept trying to say things like, "okay - that sounds great," and, "well, I think that's all the questions that I have." But, the crazy woman would not let me off the phone. Finally, I was able to shut her up, and I practically sprinted through the house to comfort my oh-so distraught baby. My lovely, helpless baby. But, the poor thing had fallen asleep. I was heart-broken even worse (which I hadn't thought possible). I left this being, who I am head-over-heels for, and for whom I am the primary caregiver - the one that reassures him that he is safe in the world,  and that people love him and will help him when he needs it - to hysteric-cry himself to sleep. This wasn't the "he needs to learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on his own" cry, this was "is there anyone in the world who loves me anymore?" cry... and that's how he fell asleep: wondering if there was anyone in the whole world who would rescue him.

I have done my fair share of crying myself to sleep: hormonal stuff, deployment stuff, giving a cat to the humane society because she keeps pissing on everything stuff. It's miserable (as everyone knows).

Yes - I know that this happening once out of the millions of times that he cries and I pick him up, reassure him, and calm him isn't going to scar him for life. This will be the least of the reasons that he will need therapy by age 8. I know, also, that in the big scheme of things, this one incident of taking care of something that will ultimately save us something an obscene amount of money instead of immediately rushing to his aid does not make me a horrible mother - that, in fact, this incident being so traumatic for me might be a sign that I am a good mother.

But, I reallyreallyreally hope that, in 5 years, this isn't a moment that I remember.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Whelp - Here I Go!

First, I must say that it is definitely not my fault that I'm writing a blog. I would like to blame those on my Facebook page that have pressured me into joining a forum that would allow me to share pictures & stories about my little boy, whom I will call J. Also, I would like to blame my dad, who, fortunately and unfortunately as the case may be, has encouraged and supported me in my every endeavor (nursing school that I dropped out of, bible college that I moved on from, and now some random form of "writing").

Next, I've been wondering about narcissism. Is it more narcissistic to create an entire site dedicated to my/our somewhat uneventful life, or to subject my Facebook friends to a constant bombardment of pictures and stories from a completely child- and self-absorbed woman? Also, does it count as narcissism if one is actually sharing more about the being that has overtaken his/her every waking moment? Narcissism by proxy? I guess the final story is delete me from either your Facebook feed or your internet history if you find my posts, which I usually consider hilarious and/or endearing, to be annoying and/or excessive. (And.... here is where I add a smiley face because I feel like that last sentence might have been a little intense.) ;)

So, here's the purpose of this blog: sharing little snippets of life in an occasionally snarky way, documenting Baby J's life since my memory is currently crap, and trying to keep some amount of sanity in the midst of diapers and deployments.

Oh, random: if, for some completely crazy reason, someone who does not know me or K ends up viewing this very experimental blog, I am a Navy wife trying desperately to not lose my identity to being Mrs. [husband's job description].